People & Teams

How do you conduct effective 1:1 meetings with team members?

When do you choose 1:1 meetings as opposed to team meetings? What's their role, and how do you make sure they achieve the intended result?

  • Principal & Practice Lead at AND Digital

    First, take the individual out of the day-to-day. Find a quiet corner and sit down with a coffee. Remove the person (and the conversation) from the immediate work environment. This is about them.

    Second, start with them. A simple How are you doing? is a great starting point and gives you valuable information about how they're feeling and what may be bothering them. Be prepared for this to not just be about work.

    Only then get onto tasks. What's going well? What's going wrong?. Get updates on any actions from your previous catch-up.

    Try to balance short-term issues and updates, with discussion of longer-term goals.

    Your role here is to support and enable. How can I help? is a super simple, but effective question to ask. Wrap-up by summarising next steps and actions — both for them and for you.

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  • The Team at JAM

    One-on-ones might seem like a waste of time. After the product mission and vision are defined, shouldn't people “just know” what to do?

    No. It’s your role to keep the product machine rolling.

    You’re like the ball bearings that make the wheels turn. You need to make sure each wheel—each person—is operating in an efficient way. You remove unnecessary friction, provide enough support and oil to prevent breakdowns.

    One-to-one meetings take a lot of time. But, in several cases they are worth it—they bring exponential returns. Here are three top goals of your one-on-ones and key principles to employ in each.

    Direction.

    Set specific goals for each team member to make it easier for them to take pride in their achievements.

    • Accountability. Strong accountability culture is one of the characteristics that makes your team antifragile. But, different people respond better to different forms of accountability. Some prefer to set OKRs, others use Habit RPG, others want be measured by specific metrics—for example time taken to resolve a customer support ticket. Find out what works for each person.

    • Autonomy. While deliverables are important, you don’t want to micromanage. Make it clear where you leave your team members autonomy to experiment. Showing trust this way will lead to creative solutions and greater job satisfaction.

    Performance.

    Keep track of team's performance.

    • Give feedback. Each person has their own workload. To address their specific performance it’s best to talk 1:1.
    • Give support. This type of meeting is also a time for them to share problems and ask for support in finding solutions. Awareness of small issues will help you kill them before they evolve into monstrous bugs.
    • Foster development. Learn about the long term career plan of your team members and place them in positions that facilitate their goals. They will contribute with more enthusiasm and have confidence in you as their supporter.

    Obstacles.

    • Criticism. Praise in public, but criticise in person. If there is an issue with your team member’s behaviour, or work performance, talk to them in private. Locate causes of the problem, and ask open questions to assist them in coming up with solutions. Refrain from preaching.
    • Difficult news. If the team member is to be let go, or their work agreement needs to be changed discuss this in private. While it's useful in all above cases, here especially, use principles of non-violent communication.

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